Caregiver pleads guilty to exploitation of vulnerable adult

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MOORHEAD — A 23-year-old Fargo woman pleaded guilty Monday, Aug. 13, in Clay County District Court to one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, telling the court she "borrowed" thousands of dollars from a dementia patient she once cared for as an in-home health aide.

Aielyn J. Larson's plea was made in the form of an Alford plea, meaning she did not admit to criminal activity but acknowledged a jury could find her guilty based on the evidence.

Judge Tammy Merkins deferred acceptance of the plea pending a pre-sentence investigation.

Under a plea agreement, Merkins would have 365 days stayed for two years if she paid a $500 fine and restitution of $21,150.

Larson provided prosecutors with a check for that amount Monday.

According to court documents:

Larson at one time worked for an in-home care service taking care of the victim, who has dementia and documented memory loss issues.

After leaving that job, Larson later moved in with the woman and received checks from the woman ranging from $300 to $7,000.

When police interviewed Larson, she estimated she had borrowed about $9,000 from the woman.

When confronted with the fact that there were more than $21,000 in checks written to her, Larson reportedly responded, "That's a lot more than I thought it was."

When asked in court Monday whether she had taken money from the alleged victim, Larson said, "I borrowed money, yes."

A sentencing hearing is set for Sept. 17.